Tag Archives: romance

What Happens When Players Coach?

My first love, sports-wise, was baseball. Then there were the movies . . . oddly enough, this video really touches on much of what my novel’s about . . . all those confusing signals! What’s a player to do? It seems to be a great complement to the book description below.

This is an older description, but still very relevant, though some of the names have been changed since it was first posted. One of my readers – someone who has helped immensely – convinced me that the book is very much a romance. I can’t deny that, though this was never the intent, yet it seems that way it is.

I hope I’m not “making the wrong mistake” here, using a bit of a baseball analogy . . . thinking of Cupid as the pitcher . . . I’m still wondering if she cheats . . . hiding some of that slippery stuff under the tip of her cap! By the way, yeah, there’s plenty of Yogi Berra logic in Dawn at Last, but no worries, he’s just the catcher!

So here’s the old book description . . . and if you should ever read Dawn at Last, may she throw plenty of slow, sinking sliders!

An Older Description of Dawn at Last

Robin Belcour appears to have it all. She is a specialized therapist who handpicks her clients – all men who adore her – the only way she will have it. Managing a life for contentment is very easy when one shuts the door to love, an apparent necessity given her many secrets. Yet something haunts her . . . three recurring words . . . bound and impatient.

It would be unfair to label her as the protagonist in this tale . . . after all, there are five others playing games of their own, but all on the same field.

In these individual games of love, it seems that Cupid has put away the arrows. Instead, she has taken to the mound . . . playfully dishing out a menu of tempting curve balls, changeups, forkballs, sinking sliders, and the occasional screwball. The half dozen players that step up to the plate have varied backgrounds – apparently they’re allowed to swing away as much as they want.

Fate doesn’t mind – if Cupid’s the pitcher, then it’s safe to say that Fate is the manager, keeping an eye on a scoreboard that has no numbers! Together, Cupid and Fate make it all look like an art form, something new, but old at the same time. In a way, all the art becomes part of the game, fans and all!

Fate lets Cupid toss out all kinds of pleasant surprises. The players miss the signals, trying so hard to second guess this pitcher of opportunity. They seem to be their own worse enemies: a house painter who is really a dreamer, two very smart waitresses who sometimes live the dream, an eccentric art enthusiast, a psychologist who has nightmares of her past, and a lover of gardening . . . a man who only wants to make dreams come true . . . but for others.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether one is 24 or 52 in this pack . . . they intertwine in what is mostly a humorous calamity of mistaken affections. Perhaps only love itself can straighten out their trials of error. She masterfully dances around the mayhem, even letting these mysterious tulips become part of the dance . . . in more ways than one. There is the mystery of their tangled lives, but above that, there is the mystery of a different kind . . . of pure joy, of the greatest dance of all . . . will any of them ever learn?

The younger ones seem to make the complex simple, when it comes to matters of love and affection. The older ones are trapped in the complexities of their own doing – yet they thirst for something more simple – perhaps a little less drama?

This is very much a story of love – much more than a love story – right from the first word to the last one. It’s a wonderful, heart-felt journey of discovery, the coming to terms with one’s past – for some – and one’s present and future – for all. It is not a matter of lover conquering all, it’s more like she’s watching and laughing . . . by the time it’s over, you may wonder whether the dreams know more than the dreamers . . . .

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Excerpt from Dawn at Last

One can no more bury the past than control the future, though I suppose many of us try to do both, in various degrees. This is one of the central themes in Dawn at Last, a book about being wanted in three states . . . the past, the present and the future.

One of the main characters seems more consumed with the past than the others. Some see her as an ice queen, though she’s never struck me that way . . . perhaps more of a victim? Yet she doesn’t want to see herself that way –  the victim – though she knows there is plenty of truth to that. To accept it as true is to admit defeat . . . the warrior within can’t do that, and so the child within continues to suffer:

       “You two are really something else . . . such smart men! You know I’m mostly full of shit, more screwed up than I ever realized, until now . . . most of my life is one big lie. But then in my own defense, present company excepted, most of my life has been with people who, well, let’s just leave that out for now . . . Anyway, just so you know, Ben and all the others got exactly what they paid for. They got their ‘charming companionship’ every time – two hours at a time – the truth is they probably got more than their money’s worth . . . an ongoing, unattainable fantasy.”

She stops there. That lump comes back to her throat, brought on by her words, as they turn into thoughts. The epiphany is crushing . . . she is still living the life that she thought was left behind, the life of Dawn Belcourt, the expert in fantasy fulfillment. Her title had changed, but the role was much the same, though now there is no more fulfillment – not for anyone, and especially not for Donna Belauche.

Pierre and Charles are deeply disturbed. They are not bothered by anything she has said, but more by the current image of the woman they adore, in spite of all her acting. Now she is just sitting there, her glass shaking uncontrollably, as some of the wine dribbles down her top while she tries to drink it. She manages to put the wine glass down on the table without more spilling. Donna puts one hand over her mouth as she looks out, and then up, pensively, into the darkness of the night, into the rain.

She cannot speak and the two men know that. She bites her lower lip. The light coming from the pictures now reveals the water, but not the water from the dripping rain. Instead, the light watches the flow of tears that she tries to contain in the wells of her eyes. She appears to be on the verge of a complete breakdown, the weight of years of secret pain and sorrow, like a dam about to burst. However, in this moment, all that Pierre can see of her is a tender and hurting child.

He stands up and reaches out his hand to her. It’s an unspoken invitation for her to stand up, and when she does, he just holds her and hugs her. The tears flow uncontrollably now, and her body shakes in unison to the sobbing. He holds her a little tighter. There is nothing more he can do. She too is without choice, so Donna squeezes Pierre as tightly as she can . . . she just can’t stop the crying.

The mind is such a wonderful paradox, so fragile and yet so strong. It seems there are so many people ready to take advantage of both aspects. However, Dawn at Last is really about people who care about each other, each one differently, and despite each others’ peculiar secrets, longings, and deceptions.

I find it hard to choose excerpts from the book without spoiling it for any readers, though the one above is a pivotal one. I’ll just trust my extinct that it won’t be a spoiler for you, should you ever decide to read the book. In a way this excerpt is misleading – the sadness of it – the book as a whole really isn’t that way.

As usual, after posting something a little sad, I like to finish with something more upbeat, and Dawn at Last is overall full of reasons to smile . . . here’s to wishing you more ups than downs:

Pain & Glory

Find Dawn at Last at:     Amazon       Barnes & Noble        Apple

My Smashwords Author Interview

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Did Knee

Smashwords has this really nice feature. Authors can select from a list of questions and provide answers that form an interview. There’s also the option of selecting your own questions. It’s a great way to explain one’s work, much easier than trying to do it in an essay or a blog post.

Rather than send you to my Smashwords page, I’ve included the interview here, just below. If you have questions of your own, please feel free to use the reply link and ask away . . . just don’t ask about my radio, okay?

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Is it true that you write naked?

 Now why does this question remind me of Marilyn Monroe? There was all those reporters asking her is she has anything on when she goes to sleep. She once gave me this fantastic response, “Did I have something on? Of course I did, I had the radio on!”

My writing doesn’t punch the clock, except perhaps when I’m writing about something timeless. I haven’t worn a watch in over a decade. I’m not always writing, but when I do it can be noon as easily as the middle of the night. When I actually sit down and type is another story. My mind is very active – sometimes too busy – I get lost in my thoughts. When that happens I may just as well be naked. But then, even with our clothes on, aren’t we all pretty much that way?

 What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

 I have a strong need for finding a creative outlet. It really is a passion and a very satisfying one. I’m an artist as well. While I’ve always felt that I would do a little writing some day, there were times that I didn’t think the joy of creating art could be found in writing. I’m so glad to find out that I was wrong! It seems storytelling is a bit of a gift for me, and moving people, making them happy, giving them something to think about . . . this process is one of my great joys in living.

What do your fans mean to you?

When I hear from a fan, when she tells me what the book has meant to her, that can go right to the heart. It’s one thing to write something, hoping that it affects someone in a very positive way – it’s quite another to find out about that when it actually happens. While I don’t need that kind of feedback for motivation, it certainly does help. It’s much the same with my art. Sometimes I ask myself, “Why bother, aside from my own joy in the process?” Then a few people come along and tell me how it has moved them somehow, and I know it’s not just about me, that it is simply something worth doing, and so I continue.

How do  you approach cover design?

 I’m a firm believer that the cover shouldn’t matter. I also know that from a marketing perspective, it is important, especially in terms of catching people’s attention, and even more so for an unknown talent. As an artist, it is a different kind of challenge, and I couldn’t be more pleased in finally coming up with a cover that matches the book in both content and tone. I guess I’m a bit of a tease, and my cover is a gorgeous tease, but also it’s an honest one. It’s also a little mysterious, as it’s supposed to be!

What is your writing process?

Basically it comes down to elements and rules. While I’ve internalized much of the “Element of Style”, I still refer to it in a pinch. I’ve been using it for over 30 years now. I’ve studied all kinds of writing manuals over the years, though it seems the best ones have to do with writing advertising copy. Those books really do teach one how to write concisely, yet effectively. As for rules, once again I lean towards simplicity. I follow W. Somerset Maugham’s teachings, something I stumbled upon over 20 years ago, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Funny how it works. I read his “Of Human Bondage” in high school and now after all this time I begin my novel with three words, “Bound and impatient.” It seems like my characters must be somewhat like Maugham, just trying to figure out the rules of life are as they move along. One of them wants to be a writer.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

First of all, when I’m writing that is almost the only thing I do. Then there is the time spent on marketing, which actually takes up more time than the writing, at least for now, as an unknown independent author. When I’m not doing something book-related, by far my favorite activity is my art. Between the two that doesn’t leave much time, and that time is spent mostly with family, a little reading, watching a good movie, going for walks, trying to make the odd person laugh or smile – mostly strangers – or just being a pain in the ass for someone – mostly friends.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

 At my age, and almost without exception, there is this incredible urge to pee. Not to pee? That is out of the question!

Is there anything you want to say specifically about Dawn at Last?

 The most frustrating aspect of trying to describe the book concerns this issue of genre. I never gave it much thought until after the book was finished. It really crosses a number of genres, and I can’t find one where there’s a really snug fit. I really wish “Adult bedtime stories” would become a genre. That’s perhaps the best tag I could put on it, in a few words. My hope is that people will read the first few chapters and then decide if it fits for them. It really is one of those books that kind of grows on you as it moves along, so if you enjoy the first 10%, it only gets better.

What are you working on next?

 When I was about 2/3 done Dawn at Last it occurred to me that this could easily turn into a trilogy and I was quite excited about that. Since finishing the book I’ve vacillated on that notion, but readers keep telling me that I must continue the story. So given that, and my joy in cooking, for now I am stewing!

The characters make it easy to continue the story, but they also make it more difficult to keep them out of trouble. After all, there is only so much an author can do to protect the likes of Dawn and Sunni and Andrea. The trouble I see them getting into down the road is already starting to piss me off, and it doesn’t look like the men in their lives are going to help them too much, though I’m sure they will try their best.

Is it true that you once looked like Brad Pitt?

 Well yes, so I’ve been told, but you have to consider the source. She was only about 11 at the time, one of my two daughters, and the comment came shortly before her birthday . . . such a clever little girl! They are both gifted in their own ways . . . remarkable young ladies . . . now much quicker than their father. By that I mean it took me about 10 years to finally explain to my little one that since I’m older than him, in fact he looks a little like me. To clarify though, the actual statement was, “You know dad, if you had hair you’d look just like Brad Pitt!”

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20,000 Words and a Bunch of Characters!

I wish this cursor would stop blinking at me, but I guess that’s why they call it a ‘cursor’.

It seems almost every blogger that I follow also does other writing. With a minor case of bloggers’ block, I’m finding this to be quite different than writer’s block. Funny thing is though, I’ve never had writers’ block. I’m 20,000 words and five chapters into my second novel and it’s coming along better than expected, and I expect a lot!

So far I’ve found four main characters that sneaked into my book.

Each character seems to have their own rule book, though none of them see themselves as rebels, just quietly rebellious.

They’re a curious bunch, all very decent on the surface, except for one dude who’s gotten what he deserves. Pardon me…that’s dudes not one of the four, and yet so far he’s been the sneakiest by far! The two main female characters are smart, one very funny and one very troubled, tough and at the same with a huge but confused heart…a survivor of both her looks and charm, as well as the curiosity that led her down an adventurous path that she very much wants to leave behind.

Then there’s two main male characters. One’s your average guy, until you get to know him. A tradesman, a loner, a playful dreamer who thinks he wants to find the right woman and ‘settle down’ but at 37 he is actually very much settled, comfortable, busy in his passions. In other words, like most men in his position he really doesn’t know what he wants, and the question remains as to whether he ever figure this out, or perhaps someone will do it for him?

The other man is more of a gentleman, a quirky eccentric who doesn’t mind helping others as long as he has a say in direction, and ‘helping others’ seems to have no end in terms of the strangely pleasant adventures he brings his followers into; most of them don’t even realize what they’re involved in, and none seem to mind…at least so far!

Now after dragging you into this funnel of intrigue, I suppose it’s only fair to punish you with an excerpt:

As always, Melanie begins with her window shopping, a full 90 minutes of it, followed by a quick 30 minute grocery tour, which is basically a routine more than an adventure. She likes the uniqueness of the bazaar or at least the attempt of it. Local and regional crafts people are everywhere, this being the start of the tourist season. Small artist and artisan-run co-ops occupy what seems like two out of five shops. Most of the others are franchise operations but at least the offerings are more exotic, different than the mega-malls. And then there are the service businesses: hair salons, acupuncture and massage, all kinds of mini restaurants, and then her favorite: the music shop.

 It’s more than a place to buy musical instruments of all sorts classical. It’s also more than a place to buy sheet music that must be exhaustive in availability.  It’s even more than a registry for antique instruments or a place to sign up for lessons of the French Horn. It’s also a place where every Sunday for 30 minutes of every hour, a local musician or small group performs in a small sitting area within the shop, with room for maybe 20 or so patrons. The charge is voluntary and all proceeds go to the musicians, and the ones that really don’t need the money leave theirs for the ones that really do.

 She knew of this kind of sharing through her acquaintance with one such musician, Joe Spence, a violinist who only recently came into some unexpected financial success with an online video that quickly became popular. She met this young man totally by accident about three months ago, literally bumping into him as she came out of the grocery store, in a hurry to meet up with Donna. Though it was her fault, he apologized and offered to repay her in some way for the trouble he had caused. His kindness caught her by surprise, or perhaps it was his gentle nature, which seemed odd when she looked at him and saw the face of a proud, defiant Sioux warrior.

 She would have no part of any kind gesture, so after helping her getting her bags repacked he offered to play for her someday. This is how she learned of the music shop, as he handed her a card and told her he plays there every Sunday morning. When he told that he’s a violinist, his eyes shone brightly and he grinned at her obvious surprise to the announcement. Perhaps it was all of this, and maybe his passion as well, that lured her every week to hear him play, and then to visit for awhile. Other than that, shopping was just groceries.

 Walking down the aisle, a poster on a community billboard catches her attention. It’s a beautiful picture of horses and an advertisement for some sort of jumping competition. It reminds her of Joe’s explanation, his reaction to her surprise, as he had told her, “I can you’re surprised…an Indian playing the violin! I was surprised too…never thought of it until I learned something special about violins.” Without giving her a chance to ask, he continued, “It’s all about the horses for me, and for my people. They were our friends, not our possessions. This is still the way. We don’t own them any more than we own the wind. So it’s the bow. Do you know the string of the bow is actually the hair of the horse? This fascinated me and soon I fell in love with the wind of the violin…the music.” He then looked her in the eyes, and seeing the warmth he knew she understood and with a lightning grin he concluded, “It’s all horseplay!” and they laughed.

And just so you know, I’m just teasing here…neither Joe nor Melanie are one of the four main characters mentioned above…gotcha!

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